Food

Playing with fire

Did Obama screw up ag subsidy reform?

Over the weekend, the NYT detailed the trials and tribulations of the Obama administration’s attempts to trim farm subsidy payments of a certain size: Among the audacious proposals in President Obama’s budget was a plan to save more than $9.7 billion over a decade by putting strict limits on farm subsidies that are disbursed regardless of market conditions or even whether the land is actively farmed. But Mr. Obama’s grand ambitions have run into political reality. The budget outlines approved by the House and Senate on Thursday night do not include limits on farm subsidies at all, and even champions …

Catching up on food news after two weeks in the fog of travel, speechifying, and redesign

After two weeks in the fog of travel, speechifying, movie screenings, and redesign, I’ve missed commenting on a bunch of important stuff. I’ve emerged extremely energized by the potential of our new food “kingdom” — a place to dive deep into all sorts of issues relating the food we eat to the health of the planet. Now to work. • On Ethicuren, the excellent Elanor Starmer has a great backrounder on the furor around HR 875, the House food-safety bill that would, according to internet lore, ban organic farming and lock up even home gardeners. (I weighed in on HR …

Heirloom tomato debate

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that George Will keeps repeating his half truths to deny the degraded state of the climate, but what exactly Scientific American was thinking with this article about how heirloom tomatoes are “hardly diverse and are no more “natural” than grocery-store varieties” is a mystery to me. Except that sacred cows make the best hamburger, maybe. Open pollinated tomatoes are definitely more diverse than their hybrid descendants thanks to traits bred for or discovered over generations (the 10 extra special genes mentioned right in the article itself), and having been developed this way via selective breeding rather than hybridizing technologies, …

Markey and Waxman cut the crap

New climate legislation overlooks a major GHG source: industrial ag

Like many others in the climate movement, I have been waiting for weeks (well, years actually) for broad and sweeping climate change legislation.  Back in January the economy captured Congressional attention and I knew global warming legislation would simply have to wait.  Finally, yesterday, Representatives Markey and Waxman introduced their “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009″, a wide-reaching cap and trade initiative with more ambitious emission reductions (83% below 2005 levels by 2050) than President Obama had even advocated for.  For that, and for a variety of other progressive initiatives including those for energy efficiency, green jobs, and …

Cap-and-fish

Using markets to make fisheries sustainable

Around the world, over-fishing is leading to severe depletion of valuable fisheries. This is as true in U.S. coastal waters as it is in many other parts of the world. In New England waters, for example, after two decades of ever more intensive fishing, the groundfish fishery has essentially collapsed. But, we are not alone. According to the United Nations Environment Program, fully 25 percent of fisheries worldwide are in jeopardy of collapse due to over-fishing. Clearly, something needs to be done. Yet, what has long been considered the obvious answer — restrictions on fishing — has been shown time …

It's what's for dinner

Reader review: Eat Local

“I just discovered Eat Local in Queen Anne — great local, organic food, cooked by a master chef and frozen in returnable glass Tupperware or compostable paper trays. I picked up some emergency work lunches, and they were delicious. They also have larger meals for sale in case you need to feed more than one and are running home. The price seems expensive, but it’s not really much more than buying local, organic ingredients and making it yourself. They also partner with local artists like Nikki McClure to make logos, and they sell some local crafts. And they have great …